Sony refreshes Xperia line, adds Android Wear smartwatch

T-Mobile to carry new Z3 smartphone in fall

Sony Mobile today announced three new Xperia smartphones running Android ahead of the IFA trade show. It also unveiled an 8-in. Xperia tablet, its first Android Wear smartwatch and a second-generation SmartBand Voice wristband that supports voice commands and calls with a smartphone.

The top-flight Xperia Z3 smartphone with a 5.2-in display will go on sale sometime in the fall on T-Mobile in the U.S. and in other countries, but pricing wasn't disclosed.

xperia z3 sony Sony

Sony Xperia Z3 smartphone.

Sony also announced the Xperia Z3 Compact and the affordable Xperia E3 smartphones and said both those and the earlier-announced mid-priced Xperia M2 Aqua smartphone will be ready for fall sales. The carriers and the pricing were not announced.

Among its new features, the Z3 offers two days of battery life with normal use and the highest waterproof rating of any smartphone.

The two-day battery life compares to 1.2 days with the Xperia Z1. The improvement is partly due to new display technology that caches images to prevent constant screen refreshes that sap battery life, according to Stephen Sneeden, Xperia product marketing manager.

The Xperia Z3 will have a Snapdragon 801 processor, clocked at 2.5 GHz across four cores. Sony said the smartphone is capable of superior photos in low light and will have a 25 mm lens (down from 27mm in the Z2 model), which enables wider-angle shots than before.

Among a number of new Xperia camera apps for new Sony devices, one app allows a user to write words into photos or videos.

Sony's new Z3 Compact smartphone will have a 4.6-in. display and will also be waterproof, while the new Xperia E3 will offer a 4.3-in. display and won't be waterproof. Sneeden said the E3 will fall into the "affordable" category. The previously announced larger, 4.8-in. Xperia M2 Aqua will be waterproof and will fall into the "mid-price" category.

The Xperia tablet with an 8-in. display will feature thin styling and will weigh just 9.5 ounces. It will also have an 8-megapixel rear camera. The tablet's Android version is expected to be KitKat, and Sneeden didn't mention any plans for support of the latest Android L version coming later this fall.

SmartBand Talk, a second-generation wearable after the Sony SmartBand will feature curved e-ink display as well as a built-in microphone and speaker for voice commands and calls.

Finally, Sony's Smartwatch 3 will be powered by Android Wear for the first time and will come in a square design that has a 1.6-in display at 320 x 320 pixels.

Other new smartwatches recently announced include the Samsung Gear S, running on Tizen, with a curved face and the ability to make 3G phone calls without a smartphone connection.

Also, the new LG G Watch R has a round face with a plastic OLED display. Motorola is expected to launch the Moto 360, also with a round face, on Thursday. Both run on Android Wear.

Apple is also expected to enter the smartwatch category, possibly with its big fall announcement on Sept. 9. Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar Worldpanel, said Apple needs to enter the smartwatch market partly to prevent its faithful customers from defecting to Android Wear smartwatches.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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